Sale: vente Kahnweiler, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 7-8, 1923, lot 279
Private Collection, Paris
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York
Georges Seligmann, New York
Rose Fried Gallery, New York
Mrs. Benjamin Watson, New York
G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh
Fine Arts Associates, New York
Galerie Berggruen, Paris
Norman Granz, Geneva (sold: Sotheby's, London, April 23, 1968, lot 5 )
Acquavella Galleries, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Galerie Tarica, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owners
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Four Spaniards, 1953, no. 33, illustrated in the catalogue
Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall & Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Juan Gris, 1965-66, no. 20, illustrated in the catalogue
Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux Arts & Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Les Cubistes, 1973, no. 87, illustrated in the catalogue
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie & Otterlo, Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Juan Gris, 1992-93, no. 45, illustrated in the catalogue
Marseille, Musée Catini, Juan Gris, Peintures et dessins, 1887-1927, 1998-99, no. 30, illustrated in the catalogue
Saint-Tropez, Musée de Saint-Tropez, Les Chemins du Cubisme, 1999, illustrated in color in the catalogue
London, Tate Modern, Century City, Art and Culpture in the Modern Metropolis, 2001, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Il Cubismo, 2004-05, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Juan Gris: Paintings and drawings, 1910-1927, 2005, no. 45, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Rudolf Blümner, "Kubismus," Jahrbuch der Jungen Kunst, Leipzig, 1923, illustrated p. 336
P.G. Bruguiere, "La Presence de Juan Gris," in Cahiers d'art, Paris, 1951, illustrated p. 120
José Camon Aznar, Picasso y el Cubismo, Madrid, 1956, fig. 32, illustrated p. 67
Paul Waldo Schwartz, The Cubists, London & New York, 1971, illustrated p. 90
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño, Juan Gris, Barcelona, 1974, no. 274, illustrated p. 211
Douglas Cooper, Juan Gris: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, vol. I, Paris, 1977, no. 101, illustrated p. 161
Paz Garcia Ponce de Leon, Juan Gris, La Pasion por el Cubismo, illustrated p. 266
Gris created this still-life in the month before the outbreak of World War I, just when Cubism was at the high point of its synthetic mode. The use of collage distinguished this movement within Cubism, appearing first in 1912 with Picasso's Nature morte à la chaise canée. Over the course of the 1910s, several artists would adopt the perspectival and compositional devices initiated by Braque and Picasso, but few would be as highly regarded for their talent and vision as Gris. Recalling this period and her association with the Cubists, Gertrude Stein identified Gris as the artist of foremost importance among these cultural figures: "The only real Cubism is that of Picasso and Juan Gris. Picasso created it and Juan Gris permeated it with his clarity and exaltation" (G. Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, New York, 1933, p. 111).
Mark Rosenthal has written of the artist's 1914 still-lifes, "A collage by Gris is an immensely subtle enterprise. Underlying is what Kahnweiler called a 'flat, coloured architecture.' By this he means an overall structure, largely based on regularly shaped planes that are contiguous or overlapping... Each fragment may have three aspects: first, as a pictorial element; second, as a sign of a representational object, by analogy of color or by containing a visual clue; third, as simply a piece of paper ('thing-in-itself'), with a certain pattern having tactile and material interest incorporated into the whole composition. Adding yet further, Gris drew, painted, and/or modeled these fragments, so that they are barely perceived in a completely forthright manner. The still-life representation, which is the outermost 'skin,' weaves a relationship with these structural aspects. Abstraction and representation are moot qualities in these highly refined works" (Mark Rosenthal, Juan Gris (exhibition catalogue), University of California, Berkeley (and other locations), 1984-85, p. 53).
Printed newspaper served as seminal fodder for Synthetic Cubism. The intrusion of mechanical printing onto the painted surface provided both a formal revolution and an archival gesture. The political and cultural atmosphere of wartime France plays out among the newspaper clippings found in the works of Picasso, Braque and Gris between 1912 and 1915. In the current work, Gris includes a portion of the front page of Le Journal, a daily newspaper published beginning in 1892 which had become ubiquitous in Paris café culture by World War I. The geometric font of the headline typeset appealed to the Cubists and provided a foil to the more ornate typography of publications such as Le Matin which appeared in contemporaneous works, such as Le bouteille de vin rosé, also painted in June 1914 (D. Cooper, op. cit., no. 100). Although much of the newspaper is obscured, imparting the disheveled appearance of a café tabletop, word fragments are left visible, inviting the viewer to guess at their original meaning.
Gris juxtaposes the mechanical printing of the newspaper with his own careful recreation of the text from a wine label to the right - vin rosé. This juxtaposition of printed material with the artist's re-presentation thereof was a central trope in the semiotic play of cubism. Gris foregrounds the artist's hand, taking time to carefully re-construct the printed wine label in a manner that presages the early Pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. At upper right, Gris paints an exaggerated trompe l'oeil bottle cork extending towards the viewer that contradicts the flattening of pictorial space throughout the remaining composition. The social comity among the Cubists at this moment carries through in the appearance of wine and liquor bottles throughout their 1914 still-lifes.
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Gris' dealer who was once in possession of this painting, provided the following analysis of Gris' particular Cubist style: "... [T]he emblems which Juan Gris invented 'signified' the whole of the object which he meant to represent. All the details are not present. The emblems are not comprehensible without previous visual experiences. . . The picture contains not the forms which have been collected in the visual memory of the painter, but new forms, forms which differ from those of the 'real' objects we meet within the visible world, forms which are truly emblems and which only become objects in the perception of the spectator" (D.-H. Kahnweiler, Juan Gris: His Life and Work, London, 1947, p. 90).
The present work belonged for many years to Kahnweiler, who sent it to New York for sale after the Second World War. It was purchased by Mrs. Benjamin Watson, a resident of New York's upper east side, and then eventually by the Pittsburgh industrialist G. David Thompson, whose collection boasted some of the greatest examples of early 20th century art.
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